The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
by David Grann
David Grann's evocatively written "The Lost City of Z" tells the tale of Amazonian explorer Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett and his mysterious disappearance in Brazil in 1925. That three men should disappear without a trace in the wilds of the Amazon is not surprising. But Fawcett's story is genuinely astonishing and Grann's book recounts a time of adventure with gusto and evocative detail.
Fawcett spent a lot of time in the jungle, working for the British Royal Geographic Society, most of it exploring on foot and with very small parties of men. The large boats, amphibious planes, and huge caravans were for others, Fawcett felt that staying close to the rivers, or flying above the forest canopy would cause him to miss too much and maybe miss the clue that would lead him to the lost city that he called "Z."
There were numerous tales of Golden Cities and vast riches to be found in the jungles of South America and Fawcett often found broken bits of pottery and other clues on his treks. He had an amazing constitution and rarely felt any effects in the jungle in contrast to his fellow travelers that suffered malaria, wounds infested with maggots, fevers, and often, death.
Although Fawcett portrayed himself as one, he was not a Colonel. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army. He distinguished himself numerous times in the field leading an Artillery group. He experienced the horrors of war first hand, at one point calling the battlefield, "Armageddon."
He survived the war despite being injured by a gas attack and returned a changed man, yet still determined to find "Z"
His final expedition included his son and his son's best friend. In 1925, the three of them marched into the jungle and were never seen again.
Search parties hunted for them, but they found nothing, or vanished as well. The author himself mounted an after thoroughly researching Fawcett's papers, letters, and journals.
The results of his journey are a fascinating part of the book and he finds some closure, if not Fawcett himself.
For this review I read the hardcover book and I give "The Lost City of Z" an 8.5 out of 10. The tales of the expeditions are harrowing and vivid. David Grann is to be commended for giving adventure readers (and writers) a lot to chew on.